I am certainly not a “betting person” except for the occasional Powerball drawing. When it comes to whether a person entering the first stages of recovery from alcohol or drug addiction will succeed or not, well, I would never place a bet. Why, you may ask? First, recovery is not a game, it is, without doubt, the most important decision a person can make in their life. Second, the success or failure of a person’s recovery is completely in his or her own hands and no one else. Of course there is abundant assistance to help with detox and the first stages of rehabilitation to move your life forward and free from the imprisonment of addiction. But, the ultimate determination of having a full success or failure must come from you and you alone.

Having been to many recovery meetings over the last four years has afforded me some experience at noticing the positive and negative attitudes exhibited by individuals in the first stages of trying to free themselves from addictive substances. It is such a challenging period, often filled with pain and anxiety as a person tries to get through those first hours and days. I feel such empathy for anyone at this early chapter of trying to change their life. I have observed such wonderful assistance and beneficence from professional counselors and fellow members of the recovery community. In fact, I will say it here, right now – to perceive the compassion and understanding offered to others that are experiencing that early intense pain and remorse has helped renew so much of my own faith in humanity and has opened my heart in so many ways. Living a life free from the numbing effects of alcohol has increased my capacity for empathy and love toward others and toward myself.

So, how do you beat those odds that may be stacked against your successful recovery? The best way is to dive deep within yourself and see what you are, what you have become as someone addicted to drugs and/or alcohol. You are searching for your true self – the real ‘you’ before you became engulfed in the perilous decline into full-blown addiction. Take complete ownership of your present moment. You may feel pain, guilt, remorse, anxiety, deep urges, blaming others, blaming yourself, a sense of futility, a real sense of how did I get here, what happened to me and my life.  Carry this burden with you and be willing to look within yourself and often. Now, here’s a key to having success with your recovery. Try to stop the negative inner dialogue that may be constantly flowing through your mind. Allow compassionate and forgiving thoughts to enter your being. Do not punish yourself. You are in pain and you need to begin to support and care for ‘you.’ Most importantly, share your experience with others at recovery meetings and if need be, get yourself your own personal therapist.

I know for a fact that the more you allow yourself to open up and share your inner thoughts and feelings with your trusted recovery group, the more your recovery has a chance at success. And, I say this as someone who is not a professional, but someone who is in recovery and shares those awful memories of being in pain during those initial days in detox. Underneath a person’s addictive use of drugs and alcohol are deep human needs that have not been fulfilled - certainly not through drinking and drugging. The course of Unconditional Recovery is a life-long journey, with wonderful rewards up ahead and a new understanding of yourself and those around you. You are in fact, stepping onto a new pathway in life and it will take time, and it will not always be easy. Remember, you merely need to practice and live free from alcohol and drugs in the present moment. This practice of recovery and restoring yourself just needs to happen now, one minute, one hour -- One Day at a Time. This is such a successful and meaningful mantra – One Day at a Time. And, you will hear it often said and allow yourself to repeat it often. There is deep wisdom in this simple phrase.

You can be successful in your recovery. I urge you, however, not to waiver on any inner ‘fence’ of dabbling with the possibility of using again. If you think you are being clever by hiding your alcohol and drug use and not being caught during the first weeks, months and even years of recovery – think about this: you are only fooling yourself. It does not matter that you get away with a drink or a pill or puff and no one finds out. Your own conscience knows – and playing a game like this is putting your recovery cards on the table and losing the bet – big time. One of the most important credos of AA is “To Thine Own Self Be True.” This lost gamble involves so much more than money. It is your very life you could be losing. You can so easily cast out those who love you but cannot live with your addiction any longer. Life and caring for yourself is so much more important than allowing your heart and soul to become diminished by addiction and staying on the merry-go-round - in and out of recovery, relapse and recovery again -- a revolving door of misery. Step out of that prison and allow yourself to discover wonderful, healthy ways to live and feel abundantly better and more fulfilled than any altered state could ever provide.  Decide on recovery, unconditionally, and walk away from the gambling table of addiction. It is a big world out there awaiting your real presence, your real self.  Recovery includes getting to know who you really are. Decide to become victorious in recovery – you can do it. It will become the greatest decision in your life – just, One Day at a Time . . . until next time, stay clean and sober . . .





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